Taking the Mystery Out of Being Sticky


Tape is an unsung hero of sign making. While not exactly a forgotten player in the process, tape can be an afterthought, even though selecting the best tape can be critical to the quality and longevity of an installation.

It’s important to fully understand all aspects of where and how a sign will be used,” says Brad Sorrow, National Sales Executive for Nova Polymers. “For example, glass or many metallic surfaces are quite smooth, so they need a thin tape. But a rougher, more porous surface like old brick might require a thicker tape to ensure a sign will have sufficient adhesion for long term use.

Going with the flow

To meet this need, some tapes have viscoelastic properties — basically flow characteristics — that let their adhesives conform to the microscopic surfaces of materials. Called “wet out” by liquid adhesive users, tapes with viscoelasticity maximize the surface areas that will be bonded, enabling tapes to work much like liquid adhesives, but with easier installation.

Then there’s the shape of the surface. The elastomeric properties of top-quality tapes allow for curvature, expansion, and contraction, all especially important for any signs that will be exposed to swings in temperature — even indoors in areas where sunlight can cause an area to heat up. Imagine, for example, a glass-enclosed exterior stairwell, with entry and exit points, that is isolated from a building’s climate control system.

Sign fabricators understand all this and more,” affirms Mr. Sorrow, “and often have preferences about which tape to use for a given installation. Sign designers, on the other hand, may not be aware of the full range of tapes available and why some may be better for a particular application.” Mr. Sorrow notes that there may be performance differences between tape brands that can make one tape a better choice for an application than a similar tape from another company.

Follow the money

Price may also be a consideration. “Tapes can actually be a substantial expense, especially when selecting the best one for an application,” notes Mr. Sorrow. “Designers and sign fabricators alike often specify tape by habit, without thinking about the cost. But as with everything else, prices can vary widely, so comparing prices is a wise practice, especially when there is little if any difference in quality and performance. In some cases money can be saved by selecting a tape that will work on multiple surfaces, making it a good practice to seek expert advice when choosing the most appropriate product“.

There are two ways to ensure the tape you select will provide the results you and your customer expect. First, never hesitate to call your Nova Polymers representative at 888-484-NOVA to discuss the signs you are making and the surfaces on which they will be mounted. Second, use Nova Polymers’ online tape selector web page to learn which tapes are best suited for your project. The selector lets you specify the primary and secondary substrate or faceplate materials, whether the signs will be in interior or exterior locations, in protected or unprotected environments, or mounted on a wall.

The tape selector suggests tapes from both 3M and Orafol, a respected tape producer based near Berlin, Germany. Just a year ago, at Sign Expo 2018, Nova Polymers and Orafol began a relationship based on a shared vision of providing a complete range of tapes for signage applications. Today, an increasing number of sign fabricators are specifying Orafol tapes for all types of interior and exterior signage.

Work smart by considering the mounting requirements for each and every sign project,” says Mr. Sorrow. “In a renovated building, for example, some signs may be on glass walls while others are on old brick. And ones in elevators may be on stainless steel surfaces. These all require different tapes, yet it’s easy to make a mistake and use the wrong tape. There is no one-type-fits-all, so calling one of our team at 888-484-NOVA (6682) or use the tape selector to help ensure success.

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